The CHP number

Posted: November 29, 2012 by Tina Duver in Ask our Expert!

Dear Dr. Buckler,

We were wondering about the importance of the number on the bag.  We think it has to do with the depth and location of where it was found.  Do scientists have a map of the area?  Do the numbers tell us how deep or far away it was? If people find something cool in one bag, do you find the nearby bags and look in their as well?

Thank you,

Allendale Columbia 6th grade Science Class

  1. Hello Allendale Columbia 6th graders!
    What a great question – the number on that bag is very important to researchers. Each sample of dirt is mapped to a specific “strata”, or depth and location, at the dig site. This tells us not only exactly where on the site the matrix comes from, but by doing some basic research on the area we can estimate the age of the matrix, and thus the bones as well. This helps scientists in a number of ways; one way it that we can make sure the bones that we find are really what we think they are–in this case, a Mastodon, which should have lived in that region between 3 mya – 10,000 ya. In other words, if we found a T. rex skull in some Pleistocene matrix, we’d know there was some serious movement of that dirt (because 99.9% of dinosaurs died out more than 65 mya), or maybe that T.rex was put there as a hoax, or maybe it’s not a T. rex at all! Knowing exactly where in the stratigraphy the matrix comes from is a good way for scientists to “connect the dots”; make sure that what we think the bones are correlates with how old we think the matrix is. It also helps to know exactly where every bone, plant and rock comes from in case we (or you!) find something REALLY interesting, and we decide we want to go back to the site and search for more. This way we know exactly where to look! Let me know if you have any other questions, and Happy Hunting! – Dr. Buckler

  2. Reblogged this on acsrochester and commented:

    How cool is it that Dr. Buckler responded in the comments section!

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